Peter Cat Recording Co. – Bismillah
Peter Cat Recording Co. announce themselves with a gorgeous set of songs, in turn weary and swooning
Peter Cat Recording Co.'s initial European release – the compilation Portrait of a Time: 2010-2016 – had a quality that ten or fifteen years ago would've been described as hauntological; an eeriness, the sound of Sinatra actively mourning the fact that in being recorded he is to be trapped in heartbreak forever. There are remnants of this feeling in Bismillah, but more notable is the sense of a band exploding into colour, freeing themselves from the past and looking forward in every direction at once.
This sonic restlessness is evident from opening track Where the Money Flows, which instrumentally moves from a gentle strum to what could pass for a psychedelic Californian indie-rap beat, taking in a cavernous verse full of AutoTune and echo for good measure, without ever losing its way. Then there’s the album’s centrepiece, the extended disco banger Memory Box, which builds and builds into a flurry of jabbing strings and juddering guitars around singer Suryakant Sawhney opening up his usual croon into a soulful wail, giving a real desperate emotion to a song that could easily have been just a genre exercise.
The disparate sonics could harm the album's cohesion but the texture and shape of Sawhney’s voice, rich and controlled but never mannered, gives the album an almost narrative feel of a character weathering life’s disappointments and pains before ultimately finding redemption in other people. This sense of hope that pervades the final few tracks means a slight settling down of the diverse sounds. The last two tracks have moments that owe a healthy debt to Neutral Milk Hotel’s patented flabby brass and rattling cymbal crash sound but they are so rich in tiny sonic detail and unadorned, unselfconscious lyrical grace (particularly I’m This) that they still feel totally their own.
It may be slightly cheating to describe it as a debut album, but if this is the record that is to properly introduce Peter Cat Recording Co. to Europe then it’s as good a choice as any. A vibrant, eclectic joy.
Listen to: Remain in Me, Memory Box, Shit I’m Dreaming